Seven Psychological Benefits of Human Touch

Photo by Jason Abraham - EFG 2015.

Seven Psychological Benefits of Human Touch

There’s something about festival traditions like those at Enchanted Forest that involve physical contact. For instance, tantric dancing, heart-felt handholding, unsolicited high fives and the festi favorite, spontaneous hugging, are all examples of human touches we commonly find at festivals that offer an array of psychological benefits. These do all sorts of great things for us. Some perks help us cement our place in the community. Others open our hearts to new friends and then there are those that in a psychoactive way actually get us high without the use of any sort of drug. With all these benefits it’s no wonder physical contact is used a lot in festival life.

Human touch is not only useful though. Research from early psychologists showed that touch is essential for survival from an early age. Once we become more capable creatures touch stays important throughout life too as a key source of social development.

Check out these seven ways Human touch can offer incredible psychological benefits to empower you to tackle tomorrow.

Belonging

There’s something about being accepted by a stranger in a spontaneous embrace that eliminates all the social anxiety that permeates the start of conversations. It’s this magic that turns strangers into friends and people into a community.

Compliance

After lightly being touched on the arm or hand one study showed that people are more likely to agree to a request. Perhaps this is because getting a point across is so much easier with a bit of focus.

Trustworthiness

Research shows that touching someone else makes you appear better informed, more confident and the content of conversations is even seen to be more honest during a sales pitch. This was seen to be especially true in same gender situations, but not as strongly between men.

Autonomy

Self assuredness is tough to develop but both in giving and receiving touch in social settings experience is picked up navigating interpersonal discussions. Through that experience we get better at social interactions so our ability to self govern becomes increasingly effective.

Empathy

They say there’s nothing like a heart to heart to understand how someone else feels and for good reason. When looking for understanding a light touch or a full embrace can be a show of empathy and a way to inculcate it to another. According to Shape magazine, “Snuggling has the potential ability to bolster communication” and that could lead to stronger relationships for couples.

Reflection

Touching creates a memory of a feeling and that is something that outlasts the recollection of flimsy conversations. Looking back on moments when touch was a part of the experience we’ve shared with someone else it’s the way they made us feel that stays with us. The fact that hellos and goodbyes are so frequently punctuated with high fives and open embraces proves that physical interaction is key to making memories with new friends.

Oxytocin

Psychopharmacological benefits are a fascinating product of touch as well. Oxytocin is released when hugging. According to Psychcentral.com the effects are positive: stress is reduced, cortisol levels drop and sense of trust and security are elevated. One college study reported that “women who got more hugs from their partners have lower heart rates and blood pressure and higher levels of oxytocin.”

 

Graham Berry